7:30 PM CST | FS-TN (HD) | 102.9 FM
I don't know about you, but it seems to me as if we've seen this song and dance once before. The Nashville Predators have won Game 1 on the road, lost Game 2, and returned home with a pretty dominating win in Game 3. It happened last season against Chicago, and we now return to an extremely similar situation against the Anaheim Ducks.
This time, though, things feel different. It never truly felt like the Predators had control in their series against the Hawks, more that they were hanging on for dear life. Against the Ducks, however, the Preds have done a masterful job of controlling play at even strength and getting elite performances from their top players, namely Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Mike Fisher, and Pekka Rinne.
Of course, as we well know, it all means next to nothing. The playoffs aren't about history, but "what have you done for me lately", and all the Preds have done, results-wise, is the same as they did last season - and we all know how that turned out.
Is this season really, truly different? It's hard to say. Nashville has never won three games in a playoff series, but tonight presents a chance to do so, and subsequently put all the pressure on the Ducks heading back to a nationally-televised Game 5.
Between a Teemu Selanne tongue lashing and Bob Murray's absurd comments in the Orange County Register, it's safe to say that the Ducks will come out with their hair on fire, similar to in Game 2, when Selanne and Corey Perry both scored early in the game. Nashville's ability to weather that storm (read: DON'T TAKE STUPID PENALTIES, SHANE) and put heat of their own on Anaheim will go a long way to determining whether or not the Preds can head back to California ready to make history.
Come out flat, though, and Nashville will find themselves losing home ice advantage and turning the series into a best-of-3 against a Ducks' offense that can score with anyone in the NHL. Tonight's game is all about the start - the Preds have proven that they are a better team than the Ducks over the long haul, but it may not matter if they get buried in an early hole.
We know that the Bridgestone Arena crowd can be counted on for playoff intensity. It's time to find out if the Nashville Predators can bring the same to the ice once again.
Lineups after the jump.
Tonight's projected lineups:
#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Nov 03, 1982
#29 / Goalie / Anaheim Ducks
Sep 28, 1982